Single Molecule Dynamics at Soft Interfaces: from Basic Science to a $100B Problem

Friday, December 2, 2016

Dr. Christy Landes

Department of Chemistry

Rice University

Dr. Christy LandesPractical goals in materials engineering include minimal cost, maximum efficiency, and optimized longevity. As our experimental and theoretical methods to study nature’s molecular-scale design principles have improved, we have begun to understand that one reason nature can be so successful is that her engineering strategy often differs from ours. Whereas humans usually design materials with a single, well-defined function, nature often acts through redundant or degenerate channels that are individually not as efficient, but collectively, and in the face of damage or wear, outperform their synthetic cousins. 

Obtaining clues from the biological structure-function interplay presents challenges for theory, experiment, and data analysis. When we study one molecule at a time, we eliminate ensemble averaging, thereby accessing any underlying conformational complexity. However, we must develop new methods to increase information content in the resulting low signal-to-noise single-molecule data.

Our central question is: Can we take cues from the structure-function interplay and use of cooperative pathways in nature’s biomolecular processes to inform design principles for tailored functional materials applications? The pursuit of answers to this question presents challenges for theory, measurement, and data interpretation. The talk will present insights into the overall question, as well as highlight some of the innate challenges encountered along the journey. The biomaterials application I will highlight is ion-exchange separation of proteins.


Christy F. Landes is an Associate Professor in the Departments of Chemistry and Electrical and Computer Engineering at Rice University in Houston, TX. After graduating from George Mason University in 1998, she received a Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 2003 under the direction of National Academy member Prof. Mostafa El-Sayed. She was a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Oregon and an NIH postdoctoral fellow at the University of Texas at Austin, under the direction of National Academy members Prof. Geraldine Richmond and Prof. Paul Barbara, respectively, before joining the University of Houston as an assistant professor in 2006. She moved to her current position at Rice in 2009, earning an NSF CAREER award for her tenure-track work in 2011 and the ACS Early Career Award in Experimental Physical Chemistry in 2016.


Some recent relevant publications include:

  1. Shuang, B.; Wang, W.; Shen, H.; Tauzin, L.J.; Flatebo, C.; Chen, J.; Kelly, K.F.; Landes, C.F.  “Generalized Recovery Algorithm for 3-D Super-Resolution Microscopy” Sci. Rep. 2016, 6, 30826.
  2. Dominguez-Medina, S.; Kisley, L.; Tauzin, L.J.; Hoggard, A.; Shuang, B.; Indrasekara, A.S.D.S.; Wang, L.-Y.; Chen, S.; Derry, P.J.; Liopo, A.; Zubarev, E.R.; Landes, C.F; Link, S. “Adsorption and unfolding of a single protein triggers nanoparticle aggregation” ACS Nano 2016 10, 2103-2112.
  3. Byers, C.P.; Zhang, H.; Swearer, D.F.; Yorulmaz, M.; Hoener, B.S.; Huang, D.; Hoggard, A.; Chang, W.S.; Mulvaney, P.; Ringe, E.; Halas, N.J.; Nordlander, P.; Link, S.; Landes, C.F. “From tunable core-shell nanoparticles to plasmonic drawbridges: Active control of nanoparticle optical properties” Science Advances 2015, 1, e1500988.
  4. Kisley, L.; Brunetti, R.; Tauzin, L.J.; Shuang, B.; Yi, X.; Kirkeminde, A.W.; Higgins, D.A.; Weiss, S.; Landes, C.F. “Characterization of Porous Materials by fcsSOFI” ACS Nano 2015, 9 9158-9166.
  5. Kisley, L.; Chen, J.; Mansur, A.P.; Shuang, B.; Kourentzi, K.; Poongavanam, M. V.; Chen, W.S.; Dhamane, S.; Willson, R.P.; Landes, C.F. “Unified Super-Resolution Experiments and Stochastic Theory Provide Mechanistic Insight into Protein Ion-Exchange Adsorptive Separations” PNAS, 2014, 111, 2075-2080.

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